Were the Caps not ready for Carolina?
Following the Capitals’ 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night defenseman Mike Green was asked about the response of his team after falling behind 2-0 in the second period.
“I think we could have put a little more pucks on net or maybe somebody get in a fight or throw a big check that maybe would have turned the momentum around,” Green said. “You can always say it afterward, but until you do it during the game and understand how the momentum shifts work … As soon as they got that second goal we kind of deflated and we never got our energy back up from there.”
Was Green challenging his teammates to respond better than they did Tuesday night, perhaps in the same way defenseman Karl Alzner seemed to be calling out his teammates for taking the Hurricanes “way too lightly?”
It’s a question that was answered in many different ways on Thursday.
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“Then why didn’t he do it?” Capitals head coach Adam Oates said. “Talk’s cheap.
“You’re talking to a guy who could not say that. In 1,500 games I could never say that because I was not the guy who could go out and [fight], so I would never say it.”
The Capitals have plenty of players willing to drop the gloves. They are tied for 12th in the NHL with 15 fighting majors, led by Tom Wilson’s five.
But everyone seemed to agree there are plenty of ways to turn around the momentum of a game than dropping the mitts.
“We’re not really built to go out there and start a line brawl or something like that,” Caps left wing Jason Chimera said. “What do you expect? No one’s going to fight anyways when you’re up 2-0 or 4-0. Score a goal, I don’t know.”
Instead of shifting the momentum after Jeff Skinner made it 2-0 midway through the second period the Capitals took a penalty just 1:24 later – Mikhail Grabovski for tripping – and the Hurricanes made it 3-0 on the ensuing power play. Less than a minute later the Canes scored again and it was game over.
What could the Caps have done that they didn’t do?
“Tough question,” center Jay Beagle said. “Momentum shifts happen from a good shift. From a good penalty kill, from a blocked shot. It can happen from so many things. I thought we had three or four big hits from Willy [Tom Wilson] in that second and third period, so I don’t know. Your main focus is getting a goal when it’s 2-0.”
Oates said a big check thrown by Ovechkin just before Carolina’s fourth goal was another attempt to change the game’s momentum. More importantly, Oates said he does not take issue with the push back the Caps have had this season.
“I’ve yet to feel we haven’t responded as a team in my tenure,” Oates said. “Can we do stuff better? Of course.”